How to clean your ears without cotton buds

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A range of single-use plastic products including cotton buds and plastic straws have now been banned from sale and distribution in England. Cotton buds are small and seem like a harmless way to clean our ears but when disposed of, they take a long time to break down. Most people flush them down the toilet after use and this can harm marine life and birds. So how do you clean your ears without using cotton buds?

English people use about 1.8 billion cotton buds each year, but it’s now officially illegal to sell or supply cotton buds in England.

This law was meant to come into force in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Government to postpone the ban.

Plastic straws and stirrers are also banned, with exemptions in place to protect those with disabilities and medical conditions that mean they require plastic straws.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “The ban on straws, stirrers and cotton buds is just the next step in our battle against plastic pollution and our pledge to protect our ocean and the environment for future generations.”

READ MORE- Olive oil drops: How to put olive oil in ears to remove earwax

We all have earwax and, although it isn’t actually a bad thing, we all want to get rid of it.

If you can’t live without this plastic-stemmed product, you’ll have to invest in some reusable or biodegradable cotton buds.

They do the same job without damaging the environment so much.

But do we actually need to clean our ears? And how do we do it?

How to clean your ears without cotton buds

Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t clean your ears with cotton buds!

Earwax normally falls out on its own, and using cotton buds or your fingers will push the wax in further.

The NHS actually advises against cleaning the inside of your ears at all, unless it is blocking your ears.

You should see a GP if your ear hasn’t cleared up after five days or if your ear is badly blocked and you can’t hear anything.

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Some people naturally have more earwax than others, and this can be genetic, down to your age, down to your hearing aids, or because you have hairy or narrow canals.

We need earwax to protect our ears from dirt and germs, but having excess wax isn’t pleasant.

Using cotton buds to clean your ears will only make the situation worse.

If your ears are particularly waxy, you can use ear drops to soften it and encourage the wax to fall out on its own.

Earwax is only a real problem if you have blocked ears or an infection.

You can tell if your ear is blocked with earwax if you have earache, difficulty hearing, itchiness, dizziness, an ear infection, or tinnitus.

If your ear is blocked, the NHS recommends putting two to three drops of olive or almond oil in your ear twice a day.

Keep this up for a few days, and over two weeks you’ll notice lumps of earwax falling out of your ear.

Don’t worry, this probably won’t happen while you’re at a fancy dinner or working up a sweat in the gym… it’s most likely to come out at night when you’re lying down.

If this doesn’t work, your pharmacist will be able to suggest a treatment that will help you.

For example, you may be able to use chemical drops to dissolve the wax.

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